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Monroe Gordon Piland III (69) has lived an amazing life according to some estimates. In the late 1960’s early 70’s, Piland served as a naval officer, during the Vietnam war. Upon his return to the states, he earned a degree in nutrition from The University of California – Berkeley, and later a medical degree from the prestigious Wake Forest University, formerly a Southern Baptist university. He completed his medical residency in Elizabeth City, NC, and was a board certified medical doctor from 1979-1984. Somewhere along the way, Piland discovered the healing properties of marijuana, a known fact which has been well established in medical journals since before the time Piland became a medical doctor. But that’s also the same time Piland began to have trouble with the law. Now a victim of the war on drugs and a soon to be resident inside the Prison Industrial Complex, Piland will likely die in prison, all because he simply believes the so-called authorities do not have the god-given authority to criminalize the possession and distribution of a plant, something he equates to blasphemy.

In 1979, the doctor began cultivating marijuana on Hatteras Island to use in treating his patients. Hatteras Island is home to few residents, and in the late 1970’s there were even less who called the North Carolina island their home. Piland successfully grew 111 marijuana plants, which he said was going to be used in his medical practice. The former naval officer, turned medical doctor, turned cannabis advocate, was truly one of the first medical marijuana pioneers, putting his medical practice on the line to bring healing to his NC community. But all that changed when he was charged with possession of a controlled substance.

According to the Citizen-Times, “in the early 1980s, when he was found guilty of growing 111 marijuana plants on his property on Hatteras Island and sentenced to 111 hours in jail, 111 hours of community service and a $1,110 fine,” arguably a slap on the wrist in light of the peril he’s now facing. “It was taken from me because I didn’t recant,” Piland said about the loss of his medical license.

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Piland says he’s currently working on a “therapy based on flower essences” and added, “I never stopped telling people what I see as the truth about their health.”

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After he lost his medical license in the early 1980’s, he moved to Candler, NC, an equally rural area of Western, NC. For decades, he’s been able to fly under the radar of authorities, presumably continuing his research with cannabis. But that all changed when he apparently married the wrong woman who took him to court in a custody dispute over their child. Piland’s ex-wife claimed the former doctor had given his son cannabis mixed with goat’s milk, and a social worker paid the former doctor a visit. Upon arrival, the state representative noticed the marijuana plants and alerted authorities, who promptly raided his home.

“Agents later found 7.4 pounds of marijuana, 58 grams of poppies, morphine sulphate, mushrooms, marijuana candies and marijuana oils,” writes the Times. As a result, Piland was charged and later convicted, “of a host of drug-related offenses, including trafficking in opium or heroin, charges that together bring a sentence of more than 18 years.” He’ll be 87 years old if he lives that long in prison.

Doctor Piland defended his actions and his beliefs about marijuana, telling reporters, “What I do know is that the law against a plant is blasphemous…Humans are confused at times, obviously, with trying to make a plant illegal.” He also said he was raised in a, “God-fearing Christian family” in Winston-Salem, NC. He also said, “Anybody that believes in God and believes a plant should be illegal is committing blasphemy.”

And therein lies the problem in NC. Considered the Bible Belt for its numerous churches, the people of the Carolinas have been conditioned to trust their medical doctors. They’re given pain killers, something they quickly become addicted to, and they’re not given the option of treating their illnesses with medical marijuana, unlike more than half the country which already has medical marijuana dispensaries in-state. While marijuana possession has been decriminalized, for the most part, anyone charged with distribution runs the risk of lengthy prison sentences.

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We spoke with a pastor from North Carolina who told us his fellow believers are reluctant to try marijuana because of the social stigma associated with being a believer in Jesus Christ and being a consumer of cannabis, something seen as a sin — more likely the result of the drug war propaganda coming out of the Reagan presidency than any basis in fact or reason. But the preacher also said people are slowly waking up to the reality that many of their fellow parishioners are already addicted to opiates like OxyContin, Oxycodone and other powerful painkillers.

The pastor also said he believes marijuana to be a much safer alternative to those harmful, highly addictive chemical opiate-based painkillers. One doctor, Fathalla Mashali, who became the second-highest prescriber of opiates, was recently convicted of defrauding the healthcare system, and will spend the next 20 years of his life in prison for actually addicting people to opioid painkillers. Ironically, he wasn’t charged with any drug crimes, because as a medical doctor, that was what he was supposed to do, steer people into prescriptions, not heal them with a healing plant like marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana in the Carolinas is going very slow, moving almost at a snail’s pace. Even with it being slow going, North Carolina, within the last decade, worked to legalize CBD oil for medicinal use only. However, that was before the DEA in January classified CBD as a Schedule I narcotic (something it’s not).

For many, a medical marijuana advocate like Piland is viewed as a freedom fighter, a hero to natural medicine practitioners, and a pioneer in the legalization of marijuana in the State of North Carolina. But to the DEA, and the justice system, he’s a very dangerous criminal, even though no one was harmed by his natural medicinal remedies. The state has decided it will use its tax revenue resources to jail Piland and keep him away from his family and friends, all because he is a marijuana and drug legalization advocate.

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By contrast, real criminals see such shorter prison times than drug offenders. Looking at similarities and differences within the criminal justice system, an NYPD sergeant, who raped his 13-year-old stepdaughter repeatedly, got a slap on the wrist for his heinous crime which has likely destroyed another life. According to the Daily Mail Vladamir Krull was, “convicted of twice raping girlfriend’s daughter, 13, and forcing her to perform sex acts on him at school after taking her to the father/daughter breakfast.” When his case went to trial, he was convicted of child rape and received just THREE years in prison.

We want to know why. Why is it pedophiles get off scot free and those who are reportedly trying to do good with their knowledge of natural medicine are kidnapped, jailed, and/or killed, all because of a god-given plant and its healing properties? Studies show pedophiles have dozens of victims before they’re eventually caught or die of natural causes, and few of those who are convicted of crimes against children ever spend a day behind bars. Yet those caught with drugs are much more likely to spend serious time in prison for possession, and distribution, both typically non-violent offenses.

It’s high time we stop sending Vietnam War veterans, medical doctors, dads, and husbands to prison for a plant. It’s time we take action. Call your congressman or senator today and express your desire to see marijuana legalized, and those in prison for marijuana related charges set free. If you live in North Carolina, consider forwarding a copy of this story to Governor Roy Cooper, and asking him to pardon the veteran, doctor, father, and medical marijuana advocate. You can reach him by clicking here. Let’s start a campaign to pardon Dr. Piland. Please share this article so that others may see this injustice for theo brutal tyranny that it is.

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Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine
  • Jbh Jozza

    So much for freedom of religion. Is the national anthem to be changed? The land of the oppressed in jail you will see.

  • Magdalene

    I understand the comparison. I was in a court once in the 70’s and saw a guy who sold a small amount of cocaine to an undercover officer get real jail time; while a father who raped his daughter, got probation. It’s beyond disturbing. Let’s take the child rapist out of this equation for one minute. He should be put away forever. The problem seems to be that the “doctor” was in possession of more than pot. “Agents later found 7.4 pounds of marijuana, 58 grams of poppies, morphine sulphate, mushrooms, marijuana candies and marijuana oils,” writes the Times. As a result, Piland was charged and later convicted, “of a host of drug-related offenses, including trafficking in opium or heroin, charges that together bring a sentence of more than 18 years.” I’m not trying to judge the guy, but these other charges are clearly the issue. What was he doing with morphine and opium? Until you report the real story, this is a white washing of something you aren’t making your readers privy to knowing.